Hawai‘i Food Hubs Gain Federal Support

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Harmonee Williams
Executive Director, Hawai‘i Good Food Alliance
(808) 646-1314 | harmonee@hawaiigoodfoodalliance.org 

Hawai‘i Food Hubs Gain Federal Support
Hawai‘i Good Food Alliance and Hawai‘i Food Hub Hui Receive Funding to Support 12 Leading Food Hubs Across Hawai‘i

November 24, 2021, STATEWIDE – The United States Department of Agriculture Regional Food Systems Partnership grant program has made an $829,510 investment into Hawai‘iʻs leading food hubs through a partnership of the Hawai‘i Good Food Alliance and the Hawai‘i Food Hub Hui, with matching funds provided by The Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation.

The two-year project, titled “Hawai‘i Food Hub Hui: A Statewide Partnership for Supply Chain Integration” focuses on increasing the success and collaboration of twelve food hubs across five Hawaiian islands to increase growth and sales while sharing best practices to strengthen Hawaiiʻs local food system and supply chain integration. Strategies include providing convening and technical assistance, increasing producer outreach and onboarding into food hub markets, and marketing to build the demand for local food across regions.

“An important aspect to this work is leveraging public-private partnerships to further food hub development to address the ongoing processing, storage, and transportation gaps in the local food system supply chain,” said Harmonee Williams, the Executive Director of Hawai‘i Good Food Alliance. “We know food hubs are catalysts for food systems growth in Hawai‘i and are thrilled to have the opportunity to advocate for further partnerships, investments, and institutional buying statewide, and to see the impact of their work accelerated.”

Hawai‘i Food Hub Hui members participating in the project include the Moloa‘a ‘ĀINA Center of Mālama Kaua‘i (Kaua‘i), Sustainable Molokaiʻs Mobile Market (Molokai), Kahumana Food Hub & Organic Farms (Oʻahu), Roots Cultural Cafe, and Food Hub of Kokua Kalihi Valley (Oʻahu), Oahu Fresh (Oʻahu), Maui Hub (Maui), Local Harvest (Maui), OK Farms (Hawai‘i), Adaptations (Hawai‘i), Hawaii Ulu Cooperative (Hawai‘i), Kohala Food Hub (Hawai‘i), and The Food Basket (Hawai‘i).

The Hawai‘i Food Hub Hui has been meeting since 2017, but it was Hawai‘i’s food hubs’ ability to quickly pivot that resulted in demonstrated success during the pandemic. According to the group’s data collection efforts, participating hubs grew by 200-300% in revenues generated, employees retained, customers served, and farmers supported.

Hawai‘i’s food hubs, in their role as aggregators and distributors of local food, and sometimes processors, play key roles in coordinating mid-tier value chains as integrated supply chain entities. The participating hubs strengthen the profitability and competitiveness of small- and medium-sized farms and ranches, often structured as family farms. All of the hubs also create and/or sell value-added products, many buying from and selling to the same producers. 

Currently, the 12 participating hubs collectively have over 2,600 wholesale buyer accounts statewide, and through this grant are aiming to grow that number to 9,500, with an additional project emphasis on institutional purchasing, which should grow sales even further.

“A key component of this work is growing the number of local farmers and food producers benefiting from Hawai‘iʻs food hubs,” said Dr. Saleh Azizi, the lead organizer of the Hawaii food hub hui and Community Development Coordinator at Kahumana Food Hub & Organic Farms in Waianae. “This support is the beginning of a new and promising momentum for Hawai‘i’s family farmers and local customers whereby food hubs lead the way in re-kindling the agricultural pathways that once made Hawaii a thriving nation.”

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Funding for this project was made possible by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Agricultural Marketing Service through grant #AM21RFSPHI1019. Its contents are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of the USDA.